Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mac-n-Cheese Please

One of my favorite foods as a child was macaroni and cheese.  Not from scratch, but the boxed kind.  As a teenager, I knew the evenings my parents were gone, I could whip up a batch of good ol mac-n-cheese, watch some Beverly Hills 90210 and call it a night.

Since I am forcing myself enjoying healthier eating, I know boxed mac-n-cheese is no bueno for my body.  That left me searching the internet for a homemade mac-n-cheese recipe. I found this ridiculously awesome  recipe from "How Sweet It Is."  I think this recipe may have changed how I look at macaroni and cheese for the rest of my life.  It is healthy, yet sinful at the same time.

Here is the recipe I found...I have noted my changes in red.

Autumn Mac and Cheese
1 pound whole wheat pasta (I used gluten free quinoa shells)
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 cups brussels sprouts, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I used 2 teaspoons.  1 for the squash/apple roast and 1 for the onion/brussel sprouts)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups milk
8 ounces cheese, grated (smoked cheddar) (The smoked cheddar was awesome!)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + more for topping (I grabbed asiago cheese by mistake ever!)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs  (I used crushed corn flakes)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lay chopped squash and apples on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping once.
While the squash is roasting, heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and brussels sprouts with a pinch of salt and pan roast for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and begin to cook your pasta.
Set aside squash/apples and sprouts/onion mixture. If pasta is cooked, set it aside as well. Reduce oven heat to 350.
In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of butter on medium heat and whisk in the flour to create a roux. Add the milk while continuing to whisk, and begin adding cheese as well. I find that adding cheese in batches about 3 minutes apart works best. Continue to whisk together so the cheese melts and doesn’t stick to the bottom. The entire process takes about 10 minutes and you want the heat on medium-low, this will help thicken the cheese sauce. I find you don’t want it too thick, as it will thicken in the over.  Mine took about 15 minutes, and she is right, you do not want it too thick as it thickens in the oven.
Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Begin to layer pasta, vegetables and apples, and cheese sauce in batches, just mixing to make sure all is combined. Top with panko and another sprinkling of parmesan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

I was not too sure how Gary would react to this meal, since he is typically a "meat and potato" guy, but he LOVED it.  For our lunch the next day, I added a bit of leftover roasted chicken I had on hand and it took the meal over the edge in such a good way.
What is your comfort food of choice?  Mac-n-Cheese is only one of my MANY!


  1. We must be sharing a brain! I just made homemade mac and cheese last night!!! It is by far my favorite comfort food!

  2. Wow, this incredible! I can't wait to try it...always looking for ways to sneak health into comfort foods! Mac n cheese is definitely one of my comfort foods...and french fries...and anything with lots of cheese...and pecan pie...and...ok, I guess I have a lot too! Thanks for a great recipe!

  3. Yummm! Love your take on mac n cheese. My favorite comfort food may have to be Mom's green chile enchiladas.

    Thanks for the FoodBuzz friend add! I look forward to sharing.

  4. I'm always in the mood for a good mac and cheese. Even more a bonus when there's a healthy spin on it! :) Thx for sharing and the inspiration - I may be making macNcheese tonight for dinner!

  5. I'm REALLY hoping my sister brings some Mac & Cheese to our Thanksgiving feast! (If she does, I'll carve the Roast Beast.:-))